Archive for the ‘policies and procedures’ Category

The Hospitality Challenge

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

I’ve learned a lot about the hospitality business since my first position as General Manager of an historic hotel in the late 70s.  In a variety of positions in hotels, resorts, and private clubs – in startups, turnarounds, and repositionings, I’ve learned a number of key lessons from my efforts to deliver high levels of service.  Here they are:

The customer is King.  The only perception of quality, service, and value is the customer’s.  Hospitality managers must learn as much as possible about their customers in order to meet their needs and wants – where they come from, why they come to your establishment, what are their expectations, what do they like or dislike about your property, what are their complaints, what would they like improved?

The hospitality business is detail and people-intensive.  It takes a lot of people doing all the right things everyday to deliver consistent, quality service.  Therefore:

  • Written standards, policies, and procedures ensure every employee knows what to do and how to do it; help develop specific training materials; and ensure consistency and continuity in the operation.
  • Formal training is a necessity.  Operational processes cannot be left to oral history or chance.
  • Continuous process improvement is a must.  We can never rest on yesterday’s accomplishments.
  • Thorough benchmarking of all areas of the operation ensures that we know what is going on and what our customers are telling us by their spending habits.

“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”

  • Consistent, property-wide leadership is a must.  Disparate and competing leadership styles confound the staff and sow divisions in the team.
  • Values and behaviors must be spelled out in detail and reinforced continually.
  • Excessive employee turnover is damaging to an organization in continuity, lost time, and cost.  Except in extreme cases our first impulse (especially in difficult labor markets) is not to fire, but to examine causes; improve processes, organization, disciplines, and training; and instruct, counsel, and coach employees.
  • Employees must be empowered to think and act in alignment with organization values, the property’s mission and vision, and carefully defined management guidelines.  “Without empowerment an organization will never be a service leader.”  Why?  Because there is far more to do and monitor on a daily basis than any management team can possible handle.  Authority for service and service delivery must be pushed down to the lowest levels of the organization – where it takes place.

Work planning and ongoing performance review are essential to holding managers accountable for their performance and the performance of their departments or work teams.  Without accountability only the General Manager is accountable and he or she will fail or burnout trying to succeed.

Leadership is key at all levels of the organization:

  • To set an unimpeachable example for employees.
  • To uncover, analyze, and solve problems.
  • To thoroughly communicate standards, policies, procedures, information, and training.
  • To engage customers and staff continuously.

All of the foregoing requirements must be institutionalized so that the operation continues undisturbed in the face of any turnover and 80% of the operation functions routinely – allowing management to focus on strategic issues, planning, execution, problem-solving, and customer interface.

These lessons learned have led me to formulate a plan to create and deliver high levels of service.  This plan can be found in a white paper I’ve written entitled The Quest for Remarkable Service.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Eight Key Basics to Successfully Operating a Private Club

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

The club industry is facing difficult times and while we are all facing challenges, each club faces its own particular problems.  As is usually the case when facing difficulties, this is the time to get back to the basics of our business.  Here are 8 things each club should examine:

1.  Leadership.  Clubs need clear-sighted individuals to guide them through tough times – but not just at the top.  They need strong leaders at all levels of operations.  It’s also important that the leadership styles of club leaders at all levels are congruent.  Different leadership approaches can dilute or damage the General Manager’s service message when it’s not reinforced consistently by all managers and supervisors in both word and deed.

2.  Organizational values and culture of service.  Every employee needs to understand what, how, and why you do what you do.  The basics of what you stand for as an enterprise are of absolute importance.  Defining your values is only the first step.  They must be continually and consistently reinforced to all employees.

3.  Planning.  Haphazard planning results in haphazard operations and equally haphazard performance.  Your club should have a 3 – 5 year strategic plan focused on your competitive position in the marketplace.  The club should have an annual plan for what it expects to accomplish and the General Manager and all Department Heads should have detailed annual work plans.  As important, the requirements of work plans must involve measurable performance parameters.  Detailed benchmarking of all areas of the operation is the easiest and best way to do this.

4.  Benchmarks.  You need to understand the variables of business volume and average sale that underlie all of your revenues.  Without this knowledge you may be lulled by historical levels of revenue when they are actually made up of declining volume, but higher prices and fees.  Benchmarking in detail is also an excellent way to listen to what members are saying with their buying habits.

5.  Accountability.  The club business is too demanding not to hold individual managers accountable for results.  The performance of every manager and supervisor must be measured against their annual work plan and there must be consequences for failing to meet goals.  Poor performing managers degrade the efforts of the rest of the team and drive away good employees.

6.  Employee Turnover.  There is a high cost to turnover and it usually related directly to the quality of the club’s leadership at all levels.  It is particularly costly when you do a good job of training your people.  Do not become the minor league training ground for your competitors – both private clubs and local restaurants.

7.  Training.  There is much for employees to know in serving your members.  You cannot expect that your employees will inherently know what to do unless they are systematically and consistently trained.  Training gives your employees the knowledge and confidence they need.  Confident employees are more apt to engage your members and provide higher levels of service.

8.  Member feedback.  You need to understand what your members think about your club, the products and services it provides, and the service your employees render.  Surveys are an excellent tool to do this, but you must act on the information you receive in intelligent and thoughtful ways to make the most cost-effective decisions in satisfying wants and needs.

Getting back to the basics is a sure way to regain your footing during and after the current seismic shift taking place in our industry.  The good news is, and there’s always a silver lining, that the best leaders and their operations will inevitably rise to the top.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Standards, Policies and Procedures

Monday, October 12th, 2015

The terms “Standards,” “Policies,” and “Procedures” are used in business to describe the what, why, and how’s of a hospitality operation’s organization and work processes.


  •  Something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis for comparison; an approved model.
  • Anything as a rule or principle that is used as a basis or model for judgment.
  • Morals, ethics, habits, etc., established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable.
  • Fulfilling specific requirements as established by an authority, law, rule, custom, etc.

In a manufacturing setting product standards usually include material specifications, manufacturing tolerances, quality measurements, and the functionality of the finished product.  In the hospitality field, however, the establishment of a standard is usually made by management based upon an understanding or expectation of what will satisfy or impress the customer/guest/member.  Often this satisfaction is based upon the manner in which some service or action is performed.  Therefore, the standard is a description of the desired outcome of that service or action and/or the manner in which it is performed, for instance the approved way of presenting and opening a bottle of wine, or the correct way to fill out a form used for documenting personnel actions, the manner in which month-end inventories will be conducted, or the level of professionalism of management and operations.

In the case of hospitality operations, standards are the model for the optimum way of doing things.  They are established by the general manager as the acceptable model of performance by which customers judge proficiency and professionalism.  They apply not only to the daily performance of individual duties, but also to the manner in which you conduct yourself and your business.

Policy (ies)

  • A definite course of action adopted for the sake of expediency, facility, etc.
  • Action or procedure conforming to or considered with reference to prudence or expediency.
  • Prudence, practical wisdom, or expediency.  (expedient:  tending to promote some proposed or desired object; fit or suitable under the circumstances.  Synonyms include advisable, appropriate, desirable.)

Policies and standards are so closely interwoven it is often hard to tell them apart.  Policies most often apply to those areas of the operation where they can be little or no leeway in how you do something, for instance in the area of Human Resources where so much of what you do is dictated by law or by the need for correct action to avoid litigation, or in the area of Accounting where exactness and consistency are necessary to ensure the correctness, accuracy, and transparency of financial reporting and fiduciary responsibilities.

Policies can also apply to operations.  For example you establish policies to ensure the consistent and fair treatment of customers, for instance in how you take tee times or restaurant reservations.  The need for policy here is to ensure that every customer has equal treatment and the same opportunity to enjoy the establishment’s amenities, which as every manager knows is important to keeping customers happy and satisfied.  Nothing will upset a customer faster than believing he or she is not getting a fair shake from the operation.

Procedure (s)

  • An act or a manner of proceeding in any action or process; conduct.
  • A particular course of mode of action.

Procedures are the “how to’s” of the enterprise’s business.  Sometimes they flow from standards and sometimes from policies, but in the end they are the exact instructions of how to do or complete a particular process, act, or event.  Whereas policies are often the big picture of why we do something, procedures are the detail of how it is done.

Standards, Policies, Procedures.  It is essential to develop detailed, written standards, policies, and procedures for every area of operations.  Not only are these the basis for developing training material, but they serve as the foundation for developing a culture that is consistently taught to new hires and reinforced by both management and other employees.  When everyone understands “the way things are done,” there is less opportunity for freelance behavior.  Eliminating freelancing or employee discretion fosters consistency of product and service delivery.  As Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt says in his book, Marketing for Business Growth, “Discretion is the enemy of order, standardization, and quality.”

In fact, employees will be the first to say that they appreciate the time and effort taken to teach them the accepted way of doing things and that management insists upon uniformly high standards.  People naturally take pride in being associated with quality and this is no less true for service employees.

Summary.  Taken together standards, policies, and procedures form the bulk of the material that an employee must master to satisfactorily complete all their job functions, duties, and responsibilities.  Without taking the time to define, explain, and clarify standards, policies, and procedures, how can management realistically know what it is that employees need to learn?  Without well-defined (i.e., written and reviewed) standards, policies, and procedures, any attempt to train will be disorganized and inconsistent.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!


Two Critical Areas for Standards, Policies and Procedures

Monday, March 24th, 2014

We have spoken repeatedly about the need for written standards, policies, and procedures in hospitality operations.  Beyond the basic need to define standards and efficiently organize operations, they provide the basis for creating consistent training materials for employees.  Common sense asks how can you begin to properly train your staff without defining the manner in which you conduct your business in all its details?  Following this rationale, every department of the organization should codify how all aspects of the operation are conducted by creating written policies and procedures.

But even more important than better organization and training is the need for written standards, policies, and procedures for all personnel and accounting matters as pointed out in The Quest for Remarkable Service.

“While a hospitality operations should avoid becoming overly bureaucratic, there are clearly areas where the repercussions of not following set policies and procedures present a significant risk.  Two of these are Human Resources and Accounting.  In the former, there are federal and state laws that dictate how employment and personnel matters must be handled and, if not scrupulously followed, they can create significant legal and liability exposure for the organization.  In the latter area where exactness is critical to financial reporting and performance, it is crucial that managers understand and meet their responsibilities in an exact and timely manner.”

In regards to accounting policies and procedures, one of the most frequent findings by auditors when performing annual audits is that a organization does not have written accounting policies and procedures – and often this finding appears year after year.  To help address this shortcoming, Hospitality Resources International has written a series of 175 Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures (SPPs), along with 47 related forms, which it sells for $495 on a CD.  Each individual file is provided in MS-Word or Excel, allowing for customization by each operation.

HRI also offers a CD with 157 Personnel Standards Policies and Procedures and 45 related forms for $495.  As with the Accounting SPPs, these can be customized by each organization.

For those operations that have neither the time nor expertise to customize the SPPs, HRI offers writing and editing services for $30 per hour.  Most operations using this service find that after purchasing either accounting or personnel CD, they will spend an additional $1,250 to $2,000 for the customization depending upon the extent of the revisions – with the total cost in the range of $1,750 to $2,500 – certainly a small price to pay for professionally written SPPs formalizing your operation’s specific HR or Accounting functions.

Organizations interested in purchasing either CD can view samples of each by following these links:

Sample Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures

Sample Personnel Standards, Policies, and Procedures

Contact us at to find out more about HRI’s writing/editing services.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!